A wrecked economy, political dictatorship, and the criminalization of government… Venezuela is entering its final stage of self-destruction.
The Bolivarian Revolution begun by Hugo Chavez is methodically destoying Venezuela. After all the means of production were collectivized to finance social missions and support nations hostile to the USA, and after shifting to a ruthless dictatorship under the thumb of Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has entered a new phase, characterized by the the criminalization of the government and the Balkanization of the country.
The Covid epidemic has dealt a death blow to a country and a society that Chavismo had turned back into a jungle. The formal economy has been killed off. Although the country has the highest oil reserves in the world (more than Saudi Arabia) and huge reserves of gas, gold, bauxite, iron, nickel and rare metals, GDP fell by 16% in 2017, 20% in 2018, 35% in 2019, 25% in 2020 and is about to fall by more than 10% in 2021. Inflation reached 130,000% in 2018, annihilating the bolivar and causing the total dollarization of trade and payments – the ultimate paradox for a regime that claims to he in the forefront of the fight against American imperialism. As a consequence, Venezuela has defaulted on its enormous external debt of $150 billion, causing a wave of asset seizing and appropriation of its raw materials resources by its creditors, notably China.
90% of the population have found themselves in deep poverty. There is famine, a lack of essential products, and public services – particularly healthcare – are in a state of collapse. The infant mortality rate has rocketed to the same level as Pakistan, and tuberculosis and paludism – as well as the Covid virus – have reached pandemic levels. The only way out of this hell on earth is exile: 5.5 million Venezuelans out of a total population of 28.5 million – of whom 58% are young and well-qualified – have fled and are forming refugee communities throughout the whole of Latin America.
The revolution has ended up dissolving the state, not so as to create a classless society, but to drive it into anomie and violence – subject to the laws of mafia groups with the chavezist authorities being the most powerful of these. It is desperate situation with seemingly no way out. Venezuela is now dominated by a mafia system. After liquidating the oil industry, the powers-that-be survive by taking a cut of the illegal exploitation of gold and other raw materials, by the drug trade, or by manipulating exchange rates. The regime has control over less than half the territory, but entrusts the rest to gangs or terrorist groups close to former FARC members who have control over whole regions.
This drift into “mafiadom” has very serious consequences. Chavezist Venezuela is destabilizing the whole of Latin America. Because of the humanitarian crisis caused by the refugees, it is exporting its ills: the disintegration of the state and public order, violence, and extremism. Venezuela is representative of the emergence of failed nations that combine economic and financial ruin with social anomie, rampant violence and criminalization, such as Syria or Myanmar. It is also one of those countries that are constituting an international body of démocratures [démocrature = a combination of democracy and dictatorship] and criminal states, united in their fight against political freedom and the West.
For all these reasons, democracies cannot just stand and do nothing about the tragedy of Venezuela. The Chavezist regime must be suspended from all international organizations and stronger sanctions must be brought in against its leaders, their economic links and those who support them.
(Article published in Le Point, 10th June 2021)